Some materials are easy to recycle and it’s obvious how they can be reused. But things get a little confusing when it comes to fabrics and textiles.
Many clothing items are made from a mix of materials. They can be difficult to separate so can’t be turned into something else.
So, if you’re thinking about turning one of your old t-shirts into yarn, you’re making a great contribution to the environment.
It’s a great hobby and allows you to be both creative and practical.
Here’s our step by step guide to making t-shirt yarn.
Step by Step Guide
Step 1: Cut up the shirt
Lay the t-shirt out on a wide flat surface, making sure all of the t-shirt is supported.
You need to cut the t-shirt into four pieces. The torso, the two sleeves, and the chest and neck area.
When you cut, make sure the arm seams are still attached to the chest and neck section. Cut along the outside of the seam.
For the torso, cut straight across the top, just beneath the armpits.
Step 2: Take Apart the Seams
Turn the torso piece inside out and pick up the seam. Cut along the hem where the bottom of the material has been sewn onto the main body.
The bottom of the t-shirt will start to curl up but this is fine. Don’t be tempted to flatten or iron it out.
Next, take both of the sleeves and cut along the seams in the same way. Again, the edges will start to curl but this is fine.
Step 3: Folding
Even though this step is just folding a t-shirt, it’s quite precise and tricky. Take the torso piece and lay it out flat in front of you. Now fold it over vertically but not completely in half. The left edge should be about 1 inch away from the right side.
If your scissors are sharp enough to cut through more layers and if your t-shirt is big enough, you can fold it over again. Fold it in the same way so that the left edges are sat on top of each other. Both left edges should be 1 inch away from the right edge.
Step 4: Cutting Strips
This step is when the yarn starts to take shape. Lay the t-shirt out horizontally with the completely folded side closest to you.
Next, take your scissors and cut through the fold. Stop when you get to the edge of the inch of material you left on that side before. Repeat this all along the t-shirt. All of the strips should be about 1 inch wide.
Step 5: Cutting Ribbons into Yarn
This is the final step for the torso. Unfold the t-shirt and lay it out so the middle join is vertically in front of you and the cut ribbons are on either side.
Now, be careful with this step as it’s easy to do wrong. Place your scissors at the bottom of the middle joining fabric, right in the middle. Now cut at a diagonal towards the end of the first strip.
Now you need to cut apart the rest of the middle joining fabric. Place your scissors where the bottom right ribbon meets the ribbon above it at the middle joining fabric. Then cut diagonally up to the same spot on the left-hand side.
Got it? Good. Now keep repeating this until you get to the end of the t-shirt. Then, you’re finished! You now have your first section of t-shirt yarn.
Let’s move on to the sleeves.
Step 6: Fold
To make the most of the t-shirt sleeves, you need to fold them in a certain way.
Lay the sleeve out with the cut side to the left. Fold the bottom right corner up to the top right.
The bottom should now be diagonal across the sleeves. The bottom right corner should now be at the armpit seam.
Step 7: Cut the Ribbons
The next step is to cut the t-shirt in a similar way to how you did with the torso section.
Again, leave about an inch at the top. So that they can be used along with the yarn from the torso, these strips should also be about 1 inch in width.
Step 8: Starting the Yarn
This step is a little different from cutting the yarn on the torso section.
The strips will all be connect in loops, so you need to cut into the material to start the length of yarn (otherwise it will have no end). You need to cut the first strip open at the bottom left-hand side.
Step 9: Cutting the Yarn
This step is similar to cutting the yarn from the torso section. Cut from the section where the two bottom right ribbons meet and go diagonally up towards the corresponding section on the left-hand side.
Now let’s move on to the final section of the t-shirt.
Step 10: The Chest Section
This section is the easiest to cut into yarn. For this step, just fold the t-shirt in half lengthwise.
The front half should be on the outside.
Step 11: Cutting the Ribbons
As this section is small but square, it can easily be cut up into ribbons.
Lay the t-shirt out so the fold is on the right, and cut into it. Stop about half an inch from the seam.
Step 12: Cutting the Yarn
Next, unfold the t-shirt. Cut either the right or left bottom corner to release the ribbon.
Now, cut the joins on alternating sides of the t-shirt. Stop when you get to the armpits. You should end up with one long strip.
Step 13: Cutting the Shoulders
To cut the shoulders, continue following the line on either side of the neckline. Cut alternating diagonal pieces up until the shoulder seam.
Now you’re done! The only wastage you will have is the neckline and shoulder seams. But, other than that, you have used an entire t-shirt to make a ball of yarn.